Four vying for three seats on school board – Dick Lees

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Four candidates are seeking seats on the Austin School Board in the Nov. 8 election. The field includes newcomers Carolyn Dube and Nathan Wradislavsky, along with incumbents Richard Lees and Don Leathers. The top three finishers will be elected. All terms are four years. Board member Mary Jane Kestner chose not to run for another term on the board.

Dick Lees

Dick Lees

Dick Lees

Incumbent Austin School Board member Richard Lees, 84, is seeking another term on the board after 20-years of service. The retired teacher and probation officer and his wife, Marianne, have three daughters.

Q: Why did you decide to run for the Austin School Board?

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A: I taught school for 35 years and enjoy working with school personnel and school-age children. I also worked with juveniles as a probation officer for 15 years after I retired from teaching.

Q: What are the things that you believe will make you a good board member?

A: My experience with most school situations.

Q: The district has long been discussing alternative calendars and start times. Would you support these? Why or why not?

A: This is something the community must buy into. It is working well at Woodson Kindergarten Center and Sumner Elementary School. It is a study in progress.

Q: Austin has a high percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and a high percentage of students whose home language is not English. What should the district do to address the achievement gap?

A: We are doing a multitude of things right now. Our special education teachers are just one avenue we have; several others include success coaches, interventionists and other approaches.

Q: What other issues would you like to see addressed by the board and why?

A: The best ideas come from school personnel. As an Austin Board of Education member, you are trying to keep up with the Minnesota Legislature as well as the school district. There are about 25 different areas the board of education tries to keep up with. The Legislature, with the best intention, is not helping. They are not helping schools retain teachers by some of their legislation.

Q: What would we find you doing on a Friday night?

A: Very often at a school activity.